Interview with Tuomas Vimma

Tuomas Vimma answers HLA’s questions:

Your recent thriller series featuring a mysterious Finnish woman Katariina and a colourful bouquet of characters and events is something quite new in the Finnish literature scene – and also for yourself. Instead of Nordic Noir type grim crimes you chose a speedy Ocean’s 11-kind-of adventure. How, and where did it all begin?

I find the Nordic Noir scene a bit boring and blasé. My main character is actually based on a Norwegian girl I met in a restaurant in Paris. She was the most interesting person I have met in many years, so I decided to turn her into a Finn in my book.  

Quite a few main characters in the book are women – very independent, often eccentric. Being a man, is it difficult, or somehow, different to write a credible woman character?

Not at all. I love women, especially witty and brave ones. It is actually quite a lot of fun to write about female characters.

I would say the series is quite “international”: Paris as a set-up, Corsican mafia, drug dealers from Antwerp, main character from Finland… Do you think this could make your books more accessible to the foreign readers? And how did Finnish readers react to the series?

My first six books were all based in Helsinki, and when I moved to Paris in 2015 it was time to write about other cities, too. My new book is partially based in Brussels, as I live here now. Paris is my favorite city in the world, and most of my readers have at least visited it. It’s always fun to read books based in a city you know. And, yes, of course I want to attract foreign readers too.

I have heard that sometimes, the research work for your books tends to go to extremes, and you had some adventurous experiences regarding that. Is it true? Could you reveal some of them?

Well, when I was writing The Left Bank, I got into trouble with the French police quite a many times, mostly when exploring the catacombs under the city. In Brussels, I managed to infiltrate the local prison and had to run away quite fast as the guard who spotted me did not find it funny at all. Luckily, he was quite fat, so I managed to outrun him. I also broke into the Palace of Justice in Brussels. 

What are your plans for the near future? What can the readers expect?

I’m currently working on my next book that is also based in Paris. Because of the Coronavirus, I’m stuck in Brussels, but when the borders open again this summer I will spend at least a month in France doing background checks and interviewing people.

Finally, a version of the famous Proust Questionnaire, used by the legendary French journalist Bernard Pivot at the end of every broadcast of his literary television talk show Apostrophes.

What is your favorite word?
Perfect.

What is your least favorite word?
Impossible.

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
Smart women.

What turns you off?
Whiners.

What is your favorite curse word?
Cunt. It’s highly offensive and sometimes describes a person extremely well.

What sound or noise do you love?
The pop that a Champagne bottle makes early in the morning.

What sound or noise do you hate?
The sound of a lame excuse.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
A torero.

What profession would you not like to do?
A prison guard.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
“Welcome back, Sir. Your usual table is waiting for you.”